17/08/2017 - 12:56

Forrest loses to Sage in court, wins in Yarri appeal

17/08/2017 - 12:56

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Andrew Forrest has successfully fended off a company that wanted to mine sand at his family’s pastoral property in the Pilbara, but has lost an appeal against a uranium explorer that plans to mine in the area.

Andrew Forrest has been fighting to keep miners from exploring on land near his family's Minderoo pastoral property.

Andrew Forrest has successfully fended off a company that wanted to mine sand at his family’s pastoral property in the Pilbara, but has lost an appeal against a uranium explorer that plans to mine in the area.

A 2014 decision by (then) mines minister Bill Marmion paved the way for Tony Sage's Cauldron Energy to secure exploration licences on Mr Forrest's Minderoo pastoral property near Onslow.

Mr Forrest argued Mr Marmion shouldn't have allowed the applications to proceed through the determination process after the mining warden said Cauldron had insufficient cash to fund the exploration.

He also contended that the hearing before the warden was not complete, so that the warden had no power to make the report which was a pre-condition to the existence of Mr Marmion's power to grant exploration licences.

But the WA Court of Appeal dismissed the case today, saying none of Mr Forrest's grounds was made out.

In a brief statement, Cauldron said Mr Forrest had also been ordered to pay Cauldron’s legal costs of the appeal.

“The company is pleased to have been successful in this litigation,” it said.

The appeal came on the same day Mr Forrest had a win in the High Court, which overturned a previous decision by the Supreme Court of Western Australia to allow Yarri Mining to apply for sand mining tenements at Minderoo Station.

Mr Forrest last year unsuccessfully objected in the WA Court of Appeal, arguing the mining warden made an error in recommending the minister grant the leases as the applications need to be accompanied by mineralisation reports, but they weren't lodged until months later.

A ruling in his favour was handed down today, although one of the five High Court judges concluded the appeal should have been dismissed.

Mr Forrest purchased the Minderoo property in 2009, and has been trying to prevent Yarri from mining sand in the areas around the Ashburton River since applications were lodged in 2010.

He has been trying to fend off Cauldron since 2013.

A spokeswoman for the billionaire's private company Forrest & Forrest said today the tenements contained the environmentally-sensitive Ashburton River, which must be protected.

Marshall McKenna of legal firm Gilbert & Tobin said many other mining leases have been granted in WA after the mining proposal or mineralisation report lagged behind the application.

"The High Court's decision means that each of these applications that proceeded to grant were granted in error and are invalid," Mr McKenna said. 

"Invalidity means that they were, in effect, never granted in a legal sense."

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